Do not get so caught up watching the granules moving at our feet that we forget to look up and notice the landscape is shifting….
A key DIA official from within the White House National Security Council has resurfaced today as reports show Ezra Cohen-Watnick has been hired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to assist on issues surrounding counterintelligence and counterterrorism.
WASHINGTON — A former American intelligence official who came under intense scrutiny during a stint at the White House last year is returning to government as the national security adviser to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, according to a person familiar with the decision.
The official, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, will play an important role at the Justice Department, advising Mr. Sessions on counterintelligence and counterterrorism. (NYT Link)
Before getting to the big picture of Cohen-Watnick, let’s look at a few recent granules which at first might seem disconnected – but they are not.
♦U.S. Attorney John Lausch was brought on by AG Jeff Sessions to coordinate investigative document releases to congressional oversight. Specifically, Lausch has been assigned as the point of contact for discussion with congress. This move keeps Federal DOJ Prosecutor John Huber (IG Horowitz’s investigative partner) away from political engagement, and allows Huber to continue culling through potentially criminal evidence without political concerns.
Earlier today Lausch was asked about the two-page “electronic communication” (EC) letter that initiated the 2016 FBI Counterintelligence operation against candidate Donald Trump and his campaign officials. The “EC” relates to the origin of the surveillance conducted by the corrupt DOJ-NSD and FBI officials; and ties directly to the abuse of FISA(702((16)(17) search abuses – and later to the issues of a fraudulent, potentially criminally misrepresented, FISA Title-1 surveillance application by those same officials.
In responding to the questioning, Attorney Lausch stated the EC document, and as a consequence the FISA documents, are not under his authority for review and release. So the DOJ has carved out the FISA and EC issues from the investigative releases to congress.
This distinction is important.
♦Remember, previously the Eastern District of Virginia attorney, Dana Boente, was identified as being a problem for the ‘small group’ of co-conspirators during their activity. Following the firing of AAG Sally Yates, April 2017, Boente was put in charge of the DOJ National Security Division. Acting Attorney General Boente granted IG Horowitz previously denied access to oversight within the DOJ-NSD. After Jeff Sessions confirmation Boente remained in charge of the DOJ-NSD.
Near the end of 2017 Dana Boente left Main Justice and then resurfaced late in January 2018 when FBI chief legal counsel James Baker was outlined as being a key participant in the 2015, 2016, 2017 anti-trump operation. Baker was removed from all responsibilities and replaced with Boente. Mr. Boente remains the current chief legal counsel of the FBI serving under Christopher Wray.
♦The Head of the FBI Counterintelligence Unit is E.W. “Bill” Priestap. In ’15, ’16, and 2017 Priestap was Peter Strzok’s boss. Text messages between Andrew McCabe’s former office lawyer, Lisa Page, and FBI Agent Peter Strzok, during the DOJ/FBI operations against candidate Trump, showed multiple examples of the ‘small group’ working around Priestap.
FBI Agent Peter Strzok was even promoted to #2 without Priestap’s prior knowledge.
On March 20th, 2017, when FBI Director James Comey was asked by congress why he did not inform oversight -as required- about the 2016 counterintelligence operation against candidate Trump, James Comey stated the decision not to inform congress was recommended by his FBI Director of Counterintelligence, Bill Priestap.
There is also evidence from Priestap’s statements to investigative officials that contradicts FBI, DOJ-NSD and intelligence community leadership, McCabe, Comey, Brennan (CIA) and Clapper (ODNI); in that the source documents (Clinton/Steele Dossier) for the October 2016 FISA surveillance application were not vetted at the time they were used.
On January 30th, 2018, after Chairman Nunes personally took FBI Director Christopher Wray to view his HPSCI “FISA Memo”, and prior to the House Intel Committee vote to release the memo the next evening, FBI Director Christopher Wray sent a Main Justice official and a “counterintelligence official” to view the content. According to Catherine Herridge reporting: those officials: “could not point to any factual inaccuracies.”
Mr. Bill Priestap, has given statements to ongoing FBI investigators and remains the head of FBI Counterintelligence today. [Absolutely no change in status, role or responsibility]
♦Responding to the initial results of an NSA FISA audit – on April 28th, 2016, NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers shut down the DOJ-NSD and FBI access to the NSA database based on 702(16) “about” search inquiries. When the full audit was completed, October 2016, Admiral Rogers informed the FISC court of serious FISA search violations, breaches, extraction of raw intelligence information and misrepresentations by FBI and DOJ officials to the FISA court.
In April 2017, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, declassified and released a substantive portion of the 99-page response from the FISA court. The FISC reviewed the DOJ-NSD and FBI FISA misrepresentations and the NSA compliance audit reports provided by NSA Director dmiral Mike Rogers.
On June 7th, 2017, Admiral Mike Rogers informed congress the NSA deleted all of the results of those unlawful FISA(702) searches, but also stated he directed “all audit logs of the activity to be preserved/retained”. (ie. the NSA preserved the evidence of conduct)
♦Early April this month: (Via The Hill) […] Attorney General Jeff Sessions quietly tapped Prosecutor John Huber — apparently last fall — to work in tandem with the Justice Department’s inspector general to determine whether allegations of abuse at the FBI and the Justice Department merit investigation. […] The Justice Department has declined to comment on his budget or what Sessions meant when he said that Huber is working “in cooperation” with Inspector General Michael Horowitz. Horowitz’s office also declined to comment.
♦Back to Today’s News – The IG Horowitz and Prosecutor Huber investigation is ongoing; the FBI has Dana Boente as chief legal counsel; Bill Priestap remains in place as head of Counterintelligence; and now Attorney General Jeff Sessions has added former DIA official Ezra Cohen-Watnick to “advise Mr. Sessions on counterintelligence” matters.
2017: […] “Washington got its first real look at Cohen-Watnick when he was identified as one of two White House sources who provided House Intelligence chairman Devin Nunes with evidence that former national security adviser Susan Rice requested the “unmasking” of the names of Trump associates in intelligence documents.” (Atlantic – link)
I think everyone can see how each of these moves and shifts relates to the larger matters at hand. It is obvious Mr. Cohen-Watnick is part of the dynamic to capture all those who participated in the scheme to destroy the Trump presidency.
You can call it a soft-coup, or you can call it politicization of the DOJ and FBI, but the end result is the same – the intentional effort to manipulate, influence, and ultimately subvert an election for the presidency of the United States. ~SD